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Home  |  Hybrids   |  Mediterranean Hybrids   |  Greek Hybrids   |  Sphinx : The Riddler

Sphinx : The Riddler

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At a glance

Description
Origin Greek Mythology
Classification Hybrids
Family Members Orthrus (Father), Echidna (Mother)
Region Greece
Associated With Riddles, Protection

Greek Sphinx

Introduction

The mythological creature known as the sphinx is an important figure in both Greek and Egyptian legend and art. It has a lion’s body and a human head. The word was derived from the Greek word “to bind” or “to squeeze,” but its origin is not related to the legend. The earliest known mention of the creature was by Hesiod.

The story of the sphinx of Thebes, which is regarded as the most famous figure in legend, revolves around the creature’s terrifying behaviour when it demanded the correct answer to a riddle that was taught to it by the Muses. Failing to answer that question would lead to the sphinx devouring the person. The legend of the sphinx being an omniscient being has grown, and its wisdom still remains relevant today.

Physical Traits

In Greek mythology, the sphinx is depicted as a woman’s head instead of a man’s. It also has the wings of an eagle and the tail and body of a lion. According to Pliny the Elder, Ethiopia produces numerous sphinxes, and experts from the 20th century have confirmed that the creatures have brown hair and breasts based on archaeological findings.

According to Statius, the sphinx is a winged creature with a long tail and a cloud of gore resting on its face. Its wings are sometimes described as those of an eagle and a serpent-headed tail.

Family

Hesiod believed that the sphinx was a daughter of the Orthrus and the Echidna. Lasus and Apollodorus also believed that it was a daughter of Typhon and Echidna. Furthermore, historians still do not know where the sphinx originated, as even in Greek mythology the lore suggests that sphinxes came from places such far away places as Africa.

Other Names

The source and versions of the name for the sphinx are not known and researchers have been at loggerheads coming to a common conclusion for the same.

Powers and Abilities

The story of the sphinx guarding the entrance of Thebes states that it asked a riddle to allow travellers to pass through. The exact answer given by the creature was not specified by the early tellers of the myth. According to lore, Hera or Ares sent the sphinx to Thebes from her Aethiopian homeland. Upon entering Thebes, the creature demanded the correct answer to the most famous riddle in history – : “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?”. It would then attack anyone who could not provide the correct answer.

In order to solve the riddle, Oedipus had to explain that a man can walk on all fours at an early age, and he can use a walking stick in old age. Some accounts, however, state that there was a second answer. It states that there are two sisters, one of which gives birth to the other, while the latter gives birth to the first. The second riddle in the story asks who are the two sisters. In Ancient Greek, the word “day and night” refers to feminine and this is believed to be the answer.

The sphinx was bested at last. In some versions, Oedipus killed the creature, while others claim that it devoured itself. Both versions of the story help explain the transition between old and new religious practices. As a threshold figure, Oedipus can be regarded as a unifying force that helps guide the rise of the Olympian gods.

Modern Day Influence

The concept of answering a riddle to gain access to some great treasure has been replicated in numerous movies and other pop culture references. Many Greek retellings in video games also place the sphinx in crucial plot roles especially before major boss fights or transitions to the next level.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.